As the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak is showing no signs of abating, it’s safe to assume that most people are cancelling or delaying travel plans.
This creates a particular problem if you have KrisFlyer miles that are due to expire. Although Singapore Airlines is extending elite status for selected members on account of the outbreak, there’s no indication that miles will be granted a similar reprieve.
So what can you do if you have miles expiring in the next few months?
How long are KrisFlyer miles valid for?
Here’s how the T&C put it:
A member’s KrisFlyer miles will expire after three years (or one year for KrisFlyer miles received from contests) at 23:59 hours Singapore time (GMT +08:00 hours) on the last day of the equivalent month in which they were earned. For example, KrisFlyer miles credited to a member’s KrisFlyer account in July 2017 will expire at 23:59 hours Singapore time (GMT +08:00 hours) on 31 July 2020.
I’m assuming none of you have won any miles from contests, so for all intents and purposes, your miles have a 3-year validity.
Miles expire at the end of the month 3 years after they were earned, so for example any miles earned in July 2017 will expire on 31 July 2020. If you’re a PPS or Solitaire PPS Club member, your miles never expire.
|KrisFlyer miles are utilized on a first-in, first-out basis. This means your oldest miles will be used first when making a redemption.|
How do I check if I have expiring miles?
To check if any of your miles are expiring soon, login to your KrisFlyer account, click the name bubble on the top right hand corner, then select “Miles”.
A new page will load. Click on “Miles Validity”.
You’ll then see a summary of all your miles expiring in the next 12 months.
What should I do if my miles are going to expire?
Book a placeholder award
As you can see from the screenshot above, I have 8,500 miles expiring on 31 August 2020. However, there’s nothing stopping me from redeeming flights that depart after 31 August 2020 (provided, of course, that I do the redemption before that date)
That’s because there’s a difference between miles expiry and ticket validity. Miles have a validity of 3 years. Award tickets have a validity of 1 year.
Consider this example: On 15 August 2020, I redeem 7,500 of those 8,500 expiring miles for a one-way flight to Bali. I pick 31 December 2020 as my departure date, but I could just as well move that to any date within 1 year of 15 August 2020, with the payment of a US$25 fee (assuming a Saver award is redeemed). I could also change the destination for a US$25 fee if I so wished.
|Because of how Singapore Airlines’ booking system works, the furthest departure date you can choose is 355 days from the day of booking. However, you can subsequently move it another 10 days into the future (for a total of 1 year validity) once those dates open up for booking|
The problem with redeeming your miles so close to expiry is that you may not be able to recover them if you subsequently decide not to travel.
Suppose that in November 2020 I decide I don’t want to fly anymore. I can’t get a refund of my miles, because 31 August 2020 has passed. My miles have a “memory”, a tag attached to them saying “expires 31 August 2020”. This means you can’t cheat the system by redeeming an award ticket, cancelling it and getting a fresh 3 year lifespan.
However, it does mean that if you feel quite certain about travelling somewhere, anywhere in the next 1 year, then booking a placeholder award give you some wriggle room. It doesn’t matter if your dates aren’t confirmed; it doesn’t matter if your destination isn’t confirmed. All that can be changed for a fee.
Do note however that Singapore Airlines lets you top up miles for awards, but does not give refunds. For example, if I book a one-way Economy ticket to Bangkok (12,500 miles), I can subsequently change my destination to Tokyo (25,000 miles) by paying the 12,500 miles difference. What I can’t do is change my destination to Bali (7,500 miles) and ask for a 5,000 miles refund.
So if you want to maintain maximum flexibility, redeem a destination that just about uses up the expiring miles- you can top up later if necessary.
Pay Singapore Airlines to extend them
|Minimum Miles Required||None|
If you don’t see yourself traveling anytime soon, an alternative option is to pay a fee to extend the lifespan of your miles.
Miles that are expiring for the first time can be extended by paying a fee of 1,200 miles or US$12 (~S$16.50) per 10,000 miles or part thereof. If your miles have been extended once before, you won’t be able to extend them again.
How much additional time you get depends on your status. Base-level KrisFlyer members get six additional months, while KrisFlyer Elite Silver and Elite Gold members get 12 additional months.
|Fee per 10,000 miles or part thereof|
|KrisFlyer||Elite Silver||Elite Gold|
|6 months extension||1,200 miles/ US$12||N/A||N/A|
|12 months extension||N/A||1,200 miles/ US$12||1,200 miles/ US$12|
If you’re considering this option, it’s much better to use cash than to spend miles. 1,200 miles are worth approximately S$22 (based on a value of 1.8 cents per mile), more than the US$12 (~S$16.50) fee. Moreover, burning miles for the sake of extending them has that whole “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it” vibe about it.
I know no one’s too hot on the idea of paying to extend the validity of your miles, but realistically speaking, this is the only feasible way. There are three other options, but they’re incredibly bad ideas; I’m showing them more to illustrate why they’re bad, rather than to endorse them.
Round-trip your miles through TapForMore
|Minimum Miles Required||3,000|
KrisFlyer miles can be transferred to TapForMore, the PAssion card’s loyalty program. Subsequently, they can be transferred right back, resetting the 3-year expiry clock. Sounds foolproof, right?
|1 mile||⇐||2.3 points|
Suppose you converted 10,000 miles into 11,000 TapForMore points. You then try to convert those points back to KrisFlyer, but 11,000 TapForMore points only get 4,782 KrisFlyer miles. You’ve basically taken a 52% haircut on your miles. Ouch.
Believe it or not, that’s actually the “best value” round-trip option…
Round-trip your miles through Virgin Australia Velocity
|Minimum Miles Required||7,750*|
|*There’s a 5,000 miles minimum transfer, but if you want to round-trip you’ll need to start with 7,750 miles|
Round-tripping opportunities also exist with Velocity, the frequent flyer program of Virgin Australia. Is this any better?
|1 mile||⇐||1.55 points|
Nope. The rate is 1.55:1 in both directions, and the mathematically-inclined will see straight away why that’s bad value.
10,000 KrisFlyer miles become 6,452 Velocity points, which become 4,163 KrisFlyer miles once round-tripped back. It’s a 58% haircut. Ouch again.
Round-trip your miles through Shangri-La Golden Circle
|Minimum Miles Required||30,000|
|*There’s a 20,000 minimum miles transfer, but if you want to round-trip you’ll need to start with 30,000 miles|
The third round-trip option is with Shangri-La’s Golden Circle program. The Infinite Journeys partnership allows you to move points to and from both programs; could this be the answer?
|1.25 miles||⇐||1 point|
Spoiler alert: no. This is potentially the worst option of all, and assuming you started with 100,000 KrisFlyer miles, you’d have 10,416 by the end of two conversions, or a staggering 90% haircut.
If you have a fairly small number of expiring miles and no plans to travel, you could consider some of these non-flight redemption options. Be warned that they all represent poor value, at least compared to flight redemptions.
|Value per mile|
|Shangri-La conversion||1.1 cents|
|Pay with miles||1.02 cents|
|KrisFlyer vRooms||0.8 cents|
|Velocity conversion (based on PointsHacks valuation)||0.73 cents|
|TapForMore conversion||0.73 cents|
Sadly there’s no hack to extend the lifespan of your miles for free. You either redeem a placeholder award, pay a fee to extend them, or take some sub-optimal value by redeeming them for non-flight awards.
I have to believe that the Covid-19 situation will be resolved by this time next year (and if it isn’t, we have much more important things to worry about than expiring miles), so I’d personally go with booking a placeholder award.
Or, you know, qualify for PPS status.